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Young people love ‘free’ government programs (until they learn the cost)

Do young people really have no conception of taxation? Democratic presidential hopefuls are relying on that assumption.

The latest survey of 18-to-29-year-old voters by the Harvard Institute of Politics shows that the youth vote will be even more important to Democrats in 2020 than it was in 2016.

The problem for Democrats with national ambitions is that youth support for their utopian programs – you know, the “free” ones – falls when young voters learn about the likely price tag.

Single-payer health care is the default position for progressive Democrats, who always viewed Obamacare as a stepping stone to “Medicare for All.”

Before they are told that such a program would cost an estimated $2.5 trillion a year, 55 percent of young people support the idea. After they see the estimate, supports falls below a majority, to 47 percent.

Another article of faith among national Democrats – “free” college – shows a less drastic dropoff among young people when they learn the cost of “free.”

Support falls from 56 percent to 51 percent when young people are told that it would cost $47 billion a year to make four-year public colleges free for “students from families that make up to $125,000 per year,” and all community colleges free for “all income levels.”

Hey, it’s not $2.5 trillion.

The survey was conducted on a little more than 3,000 young people by Ipsos Public Affairs between March 8-20. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.64 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

IMAGE: S_Photo/Shutterstock

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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